(Last Updated On: May 20, 2023)
If you’ve owned a dog, you’ve probably heard someone at some point tell you never to give your dog chocolate. It feels like such common knowledge that even I didn’t think about the health effects of chocolate on my cat. I figured it would make him sick!
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Cats and dogs are very different though, so can cats have chocolate?
How Much Chocolate is Too Much for Cats?
A common question is: can I feed my cat chocolate? Well, kind of.
You should still avoid giving your cat chocolate due to the ingredients in it that cats can’t break down. But a couple pieces won’t kill them.
Remember that the darker the chocolate is, the less they can eat, with baking chocolate being the worst. If your cat is around 10 pounds, as little as a half of square of baking chocolate can be toxic, while as many as 23 Hershey’s Kisses can be as well.
If we were to rank it in terms of how toxic they are, the dark chocolate and milk chocolates would be in the middle. While baking chocolate is the worst at the top of the list and white chocolate is at the bottom of the list (being least toxic). Use your best judgment if you see they’ve eaten any, and always take your cat to the vet if you’re worried.
Why is Chocolate OK for Humans and Not for Cats?
Humans can process the ingredients in chocolate without any real problems. But cats don’t have that luxury. Caffeine and theobromine, two of the main ingredients in your chocolate, are toxic to your cat in high doses. This is because cats cannot metabolize theobromine well.
When they eat chocolate, it remains in their bloodstream and builds up until it gets to a toxic level for cats. This leads to negative symptoms.
Theobromine is also a stimulant which affects the nervous system and the heart muscle. Theobromine and Caffeine relax the muscles, causing the kidneys to increase producing and eliminating urine. Knowing what impacts Theobromine and Caffeine can have, little amounts of chocolate can have significant impacts.
Related: Oh no! My cat ate a chicken bone!
Symptoms of Poisoning
The possible symptoms, like toxicity, depend on how much chocolate your cat has eaten. If they’ve only had a couple of chips, they should be fine. But if they’ve had baking chocolate or half the bag, you need to look for symptoms and try to induce vomiting before you run them to the vet.
You can expect to see vomiting, diarrhea, excessive urination, nausea, seizures and a quickened heartbeat. Also look out for tremors, panting, nervousness, or even lethargy. Even more chocolate could lead to a coma or death. Symptoms like these could start within a few hours or a few days, so always go to your vet right away if you think your cat ate some chocolate. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The best way to avoid these symptoms 100% is to not give your cat any chocolate at all and completely nullify the risk
Related: Are Cats Allergic to Peanut Butter?
What to Do? Treatment!
Maybe you think you can solve the problem yourself . You might be able to if your cat hasn’t had a lot of chocolate. But it’s often be better to seek help from professionals.
When you think your cat has ingested something toxic or if you’re concerned, seek medical advice from your vet. Common symptoms can become serious quickly, so it’s best to let your vet handle it.
They might be able to induce vomiting and use active charcoal to stop the chocolate from invading the blood. In more serious cases, your cat might need to have their heart monitored by the vet. So get them to emergency services if you feel that you need further help.
I’ve heard all my life that it’s a bad idea to feed my dog chocolate. So is it true for my cat? Can cats have chocolate? The easy answer is yes. Sure, I can give my cat a couple pieces, but I think I will avoid that.
With all the negative symptoms and possibilities, I’d feel a little better if my cat stayed away from it completely. If he finds some accidentally or I drop a chocolate chip, he’ll be fine. And that at least puts my mind at ease.
Cats are actually less prone to be attracted to chocolates because they cannot taste the sweetness like dogs. Cats can also digest and break down theobromine a little faster. This is good news. But still, bear in mind that the toxic threshold for cats is actually lower than that for dogs.